Team depth helped Cary High claim the Sgt. Mark Adams Holiday Classic wrestling title without the usual suspects.
That means backups had to replace such injured stars as returning state champion Will Clark and third-place state meet medalist Kollin Wade to help the Imps keep the first-place trophy at home.
“The silver lining to our injuries is some of our other guys got maximum mat time,” Cary head coach Taylor Cummings said. “Some got to the finals and that’s a confidence boost for the future. They’ll believe in themselves when it’s time to be a Cary starter.”
Cary won with two individual champs and three runners-up. Cary tallied 205.5 points for a 37.5-point winning margin in the 15-team tournament that concluded Monday night at the Cary gym rather than Tuesday afternoon due a smaller field from last-minute cancellations.
The Cary champions were senior Tra Shaw at 152 pounds and junior Erique Zuniga at 160. The runners-up were Mike Terani (126), Nate Kinsey (145) and Joseph Rogers at 220.
Shaw, who missed last year with a knee injury, is utilizing modern technology that just a few years ago was out of reach of high school kids to help him to his goal of winning a state title.
Moments before he took the mat for the final, he handed his cell phone to a friend with instructions with what video to capture. After his win by pin in 3 minutes, 24 seconds, he shook hands with his opponent, the opposing coach, signed his bout sheet, reached for his cell phone and sat down immediately to study video.
“It was a lot about my stance,” Shaw said. “I wanted to see it as far as what it was and what it should have been. There is always room to get better.”
Shaw is pleased with his comeback, although he’s eager for Clark, Wade and others to return to the mat.
“I missed having those guys for workout partners,” Shaw said. “They help you get better.”
However, Zuniga was unhappy with himself after his 1-0 win over Northwood’s Hunter Queen. Zuniga was third at last year’s regionals and wants a state medal this year.
“I learned a lesson,” Zuniga said. “My earlier matches were easy and I underestimated (Queen).”
Northwood finished fifth with one champion and four finalists. The champ was Michael Queen (182) and runners-up Hunter Queen (160), John Dunning (195) and Jack Dalton (heavyweight).
“There is a lot of competition here,” Mike Queen said. “This is big for me. I’ve never won here before, so I’m proud.”
Sanderson was sixth with one champion and three finalists. The champ was Marquise Brown (145) and runners-up David Losada (138) and Jalil Monk (182).
Brown was looking forward to competing against Wade.
“I’ve practiced against him, but we’ve never met in a match,” Brown said. “I wanted to see how I’d do against him. I think I can give him a fight.”
Western Harnett had one champion with Mason Morris at 126. Wakefield had one runner-up with Garrison Roberts at 132.
Some teams stuck around the next day for dual-team competition, a late addition after the tournament was cut short.
Cary beat St. Stephens High out of Hickory 46-36, then defeated West Lincoln 46-28 and Sanderson 51-25 to move to 13-2 on the season.